Thanks to the unwelcome presence of COVID-19, face masks are de rigeur these days. And although they may sometimes be inconvenient (anyone else had to do the mad dash back into the house or car to grab one after you forgot?) they’re making it easier to do something you might not expect: perfecting your smile.
Dr. Colin Webb of Webb Orthodontics says pandemic-related life changes like virtual school, working from home and yes, those ubiquitous face masks, have made some people more open to starting orthodontic undertakings like braces or Invisalign.
“I think anytime is a good time to start ortho — the sooner you start, the sooner you’re finished, and the longer you get to enjoy your smile,” Dr. Webb says. “But now, more than ever, people are working from home and it’s making the process of starting orthodontic treatment easier on people from the comfort of their home. We have definitely seen an uptick in adults wanting to start orthodontic treatment since masks have become omnipresent.”
And although masks and working from home may help people gain the courage to begin treatment, Dr. Webb says many patients quickly realize there’s nothing to be self-conscious about.
“It’s always easier to start something new in your life when you have the flexibility to do it from the comfort of your home,” Dr. Webb says. “But once people are used to it and realize how subtle and invisible Invisalign is, then most are typically no longer self-conscious about it.”
Also, although it’s a nice perk, a gorgeous new smile isn’t the main point of orthodontic treatment.
“Orthodontics isn’t just about cosmetics or a pretty smile,” Dr. Webb says. “Well-aligned and well-functioning teeth are easier to clean, maintain and will last longer, and I think more and more people are coming to value their dental health.
One caveat: most orthodontics still take time.
“Orthodontic treatment doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it come without effort — nothing in life that’s worth it does — but with the advances in the technology of our braces and especially Invisalign, orthodontic treatment has never been more comfortable, convenient or faster,” he says.
Braces vs. Invisalign: What’s the difference?
For the orthodontically uninitiated, listening to treatment options can get overwhelming. But Dr. Webb explains braces and Invisalign simply:
“Braces are a system of brackets and wires. The brackets are bonded (glued) to each tooth and a wire is engaged into the bracket. The wires create the pressures to slowly push or pull the teeth into position,” he says.
And if you’re traumatized by memories of having your braces tightened in your younger days, fear not. Things have changed.
“With braces, patients come into the office every six to 10 weeks for us to change wires. The initial wires are very light and flimsy, and as treatment progresses, the size and rigidity of the wires increases — we don’t ‘tighten’ the braces anymore, which makes the new systems much more gentle and comfortable,” Dr. Webb says.
As for Invisalign, it’s a series of clear aligners that might remind you of a retainer.
“They look like clear retainers, but retainers are passive and meant to retain tooth position. Aligners are actively aligning teeth. So when you put your first aligner in, it feels a bit snug, but as the aligner gently guides the teeth into position, the aligner is less tight-feeling,” Dr. Webb says. “Aligners are progressed through weekly, with each one guiding the teeth closer and closer to the ideal final position. I typically give patients anywhere from eight to 16 weeks worth of aligners at a time to decrease the number of office visits they need.”
Trying to decide between braces or clear aligners like Invisalign? It all depends on your goals, says Dr. Webb.
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“When it comes to the difference between braces and Invisalign, the teeth do not know the difference. Teeth move due to the slight pressures we create that cause the supporting tissues (gums/bone) around the teeth to remodel. With an orthodontist skilled in both, the results will be the same. One is not better than the other. However, one could be better for you and your lifestyle,” he says. “Our average adult Invisalign case is 8-10 months, with some minor cases taking just three months and more complex cases lasting 18 months. Our average teen is in braces or Invisalign around 18 months.”
Dr. Webb says adults typically get a shorter round of treatment because they fall into one of two categories: 1) they’ve had orthodontic treatment before and just need a tune-up because their teeth have relapsed from not wearing a retainer or 2) their orthodontic issues were so mild as a teen that they didn’t feel the need to have orthodontics, but now that has changed.
However you want to improve your smile, Dr. Webb and his team are well-equipped to help you meet your goals.
“Moving teeth is all we do, all day every day,” says Dr. Webb. “All of the doctors are orthodontists — meaning that after college they attended four-year dental schools to become a dentist, and then further specialized another three years to become orthodontic specialists. Our team is highly proficient in braces, expanders and all orthodontic appliances. We are also proud to be in the top one percent of Invisalign providers in the world.”
Dr. Webb’s father started Webb Orthodontics in 1981, and Dr. Webb joined the practice 8 years ago. After his father retired in 2019, Dr. Niki Chahin and Dr. Jamie Martin joined the team and brought a wealth of knowledge in all of the latest technology and treatment techniques.